Summit celebrates 15 years of success in the quality sport sector

Participant-centered sport experiences. Long-Term Development. Canadian high-performance success on the global stage. Quality sport programs. Developing physical literacy at the grassroots level. Making sport fun, accessible and inclusive.

Many successes were celebrated at the 15th Annual Canadian Sport for Life Summit in Gatineau, where more than 400 delegates came together for two full days of workshops, panels, and presentations led by sport leaders from across the country. This year’s program featured more than 130 speakers delivering individual and panel presentations, as well as 10 keynote presenters and five additional pre-conference workshops.

“The Summit is such a great opportunity to bring together delegates from the sport, recreation, education and health sectors and encourage cross-sectoral discussion and collaboration,” said Richard Way, CEO of Sport for Life. “This year in particular, the Summit celebrated 15 years of industry success with more than 5,000 delegates over those years leads us to the exciting work ahead of us.”

Delegates were welcomed to the 2020 Summit on January 29 by Indigenous elder Mac Saulis, Olympic gold medalist and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Canadian Heritage (Sport), Adam van Koeverden. Sport Canada’s Director General Vicki Walker, and City of Gatineau’s President of the Recreation, Sports and Community Development Commission Martin Lajeunesse.

Once things got underway, Olympic gold medalist Jean-Luc Brassard delivered a moving keynote address encouraging delegates to rethink their approach to sport and to focus on participation as opposed to results. Brassard drew on his previous experiences as an Olympic gold-medalist skier to emphasize the value of ensuring sport is fun and participant-centered.

“Brassard’s keynote was memorable and thought-provoking. His ability to share the story of his mental challenges around his participation in sport and the way he was able to weave that into a discussion about safe sport and eliminating violence from sport was really amazing,” said Way.

Later that day, Sport for Life board member Ram Nayyar was joined by Canada Basketball CEO Glen Grunwald, board chair of Nordiq Canada Jennifer Tomlinson and Tennis Canada CEO Michael Downey to discuss the successes each national sport organization has had in their sport’s long-term activation and their approach to build Canada into a basketball, cross-country ski and tennis nation.

Tanya Mruck, CEO of MLSE Launchpad & Foundation, Fabrice Vil, Founder and President of Pour 3 Points, and Robert Bettauer, CEO of Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE), kicked off the second day of the Summit in a community changemakers panel hosted by Marco Di Buono, Assistant Vice President of Programs & Operations for Canadian Tire Jumpstart. The panelists all echoed the importance of participant-centered experiences and quality coaching when it comes to creating a lasting impact at the grassroots stage.

The Summit closed with a panel on participant-centered experiences featuring track and field athlete Joy SpearChief Morris, Paralympian Cindy Ouellet and President & CEO of Canadian Ski Patrol, Zoe Robinson. The panelists spoke of their personal experiences in sport as it converges with gender and identity.

“All of the keynote panels provided some really rich content for further discussion. These sport leaders have made great strides and their personal experiences and approaches to sport are certainly worth celebrating,” said Way. “We were lucky to have had so many great speakers come together through the workshops and panels to share their insights,” he added.

Prior to Wednesday, delegates had the opportunity to participate in five pre-conference workshops including Indigenous Long-Term Participant Development Pathway, Physical Literacy 501: Inclusive physical literacy, and Quality sport for communities and clubs. Sport leaders also came together to discuss quality sport and physical literacy in Quebec and other Francophone communities in Canada during Francophone day on Tuesday January 28.

“The Francophone streams we offered at the Summit this year were really a highlight for me. One of the panels we had brought together the Government of Canada, a national sport organization and a provincial sport organization from Quebec, said Way. “To have representatives from these organizations all in the same room discussing collectively improving the quality of sport was outstanding to see and I look forward to those conversations continuing.”

Sport for Life also looks forward to seeing everyone at next year’s Summit when the theme will be Pathway to Policy. It will be a fantastic opportunity to come together in Gatineau to inform the renewal of the Canadian Sport Policy!

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